With Stetson Kennedy, Wayne Greenhaw before we appeared together during a Civil Rights Session at the the 2011 Amelia Island Book Festival. Tragically, both Stetson and Wayne died later that year. More »
Members of the 1960 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP TODAY---with Marjorie Meeks Brown, Dr. Arnett E. Girardeau, Iona Godfrey King, Rometa Graham Porter, Isaac Carnes, Alton Yates. More »
With NAACP National Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins in 1960 when he spoke in Jacksonville at one of the NAACP Mass Meetings. More »
With Dr. Michael Eric Dyson-Speaker at the 2009 Jacksonville Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. More »
With Dr. Charles Ogletree, the Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, and Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice...and the Speaker at the 2008 Jacksonville Branch NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner. Dr. Ogletree taught both Michelle Obama and President Obama at Harvard Law School. More »
Ruby Hurley and Ella Baker, two of 12 Civil Rights Icons immortalized in the 2009 USPS Stamp Issue-Civil Rights Pioneers. More »
Mrs. Ruby Hurley, Southeastern Regional Director NAACP and our 1960 NAACP Youth Council Surrogate Mother. Mrs. Hurley spent several months in Jacksonville (because of Ax Handle Saturday) directing her activities as NAACP director and working with us as we dealt with civil rights issues in Jacksonville. You can imagine my pride when she was selected and featured on a stamp as a Civil Rights Pioneer. More »
With Dr. and Mrs. James Lowen and Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand (Lois) JuLuke at Kingsley Plantation. Dr. Loewen spoke during the Jacksonville Branch NAACP 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1960 Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday. More »
With Civil Rights Stalwart and former Florida State Senator Dr. Arnett Girardeau, the first and only Black Senator to also serve as Senate President Pro Tempore, Ben Jealous, and wife, Ann. More »
At the Lufrano Gallery on the Campus of the University of North Florida for an Exhibit of Images in my Book---with Granddaughter, Kita; Son, Rodney II; Wife, Ann; Family Friend, Cheryl Coffey; and Granddaughter, Jasmine. More »
Book Images Exhibit - It was never about a hot dog and a Coke!- at the Lufrano Gallery at the University of North Florida. More »
50th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1960 Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday with members of the 1960 Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP. From left...Issac Carnes, Marjorie Meeks Brown, Mary Chisholm Underwood, Iona Godfrey King, and Ann Albertie Hurst (yep my wife). In the rear of the Pulpit area at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church...from left...Ms. Adora Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of Branches NAACP; Rev. Dr. Randolph Bracy; Isaiah Rumlin, President of the Jacksonville Branch; and Bethel Senior Co-Pastor, Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr. More »
It was my honor to serve as Banquet Emcee at the 98th Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Jacksonville, Florida October 5, 2013. Outstanding convention! More »
With the Incomparable Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Banquet Speaker at the 98th Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and American Beach Historian and Author Marsha D. Phelts. More »
Lt. Vernon Baker
In 1993 the Army contracted Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, to research and prepare a study "to determine if there was a racial disparity (my words…plain old racism) in the way Medal of Honor recipients were selected." Shaw's team researched the issue and, finding that there was disparity, recommended the Army consider a group of 10 soldiers for the Medal of Honor. Of those 10, seven were recommended to receive the award.
In October of 1996 Congress passed the necessary legislation which allowed the President to award these Medals of Honor since the statutory limit for presentation had expired. The Medals of Honor were presented, by President William Clinton, in a ceremony on 13 January 1997.
First Lieutenant Vernon Baker was the only recipient still living and present to receive his award; the other six soldiers received their awards posthumously, with their medals being presented to family members.
For my Black friends and Black non-friends, sometimes instead of criticizing and not understanding why you are criticizing, simply keep your damn mouth closed!
“We’ve got some unfinished business on the agenda, with one branch of the Tea Party being nothing but a 2.0 upgrade of a lynch party,” Rev. Jeremiah Wright said at an event honoring Martin Luther King Day. “We’ve got some unfinished business on the agenda, with some folks doing everything they can to get that Black man out of their White House.”
The remarks came toward the end of a 32-minute speech that also slammed “millionaires in Congress” for letting long-term unemployment benefits expire last month, and also contained Wright’s challenge to the audience to fill in the gaps often missing from the celebration of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech during the August 1963 March on Washington.
“That was not Martin Luther King’s march,” Wright said. “He was one speaker, 50 years ago, at a march for jobs and for justice.”
Tea Party conservatives denied Wright’s claims that any member of their organizations opposed President Barack Obama because of his race.
“I have been involved with the Tea Party since its inception here in Delaware and I have never once heard or seen anything at a Tea Party rally, 9-12 meeting or Patriot group event that was racist or ever even suggested that the president’s race has anything to do with the concerns raised,” former Christine O’Donnell campaign member Evan Queitsch told the News-Journal, while Theresa Garcia, executive director of the 9/12 Delaware Patriots, was quoted as saying, “If there was a white man in office with [Obama's] policies, we would dislike him. It has nothing to do with Obama being black.”
In the speech, Wright also argued that there was still “unfinished business” from the Civil Rights Movement, with the country still facing the same “three-headed demon” — racism, capitalism and militarism — against which King marched.
“Tell your children we have some unfinished business on the agenda with the Voting Rights Bill gutted by a right-wing dominated Supreme Court,” “We’ve got some unfinished business on the agenda, with mass incarceration robbing Black and brown communities of any positive future. We’ve got some unfinished business on the agenda, with jobs being shipped overseas. [King] was marching for jobs 50 years ago, now we’re giving them overseas.” –Rawstory.com story by Auturo Garcia 1/22/14
My Comments—Rev. Jeremiah Wright never said or did anything from his pulpit that we did not see or hear from the pulpit during the Civil Rights Movement.
During those days of overt segregation and racism, some Black Ministers… not all…said what needed to be said from the pulpit. During these days of covert segregation and "plain ol' out in the open" racism, many so-called Black Ministers today…including the "Prosperity" variety … are afraid to talk about the misery index of Black people caused by the dynamics of racist politics. They are also afraid to call out many "Christian" racists who spew evil from their pulpits under the guise of being a man/woman of the cloth.
Rev. Wright says what needs to be said from the pulpit. He is a real Civil Rights Preacher, a real humanitarian, a great thinker, and one of my favorites.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Read this excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech given at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963: "But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition."
Dr. King was a Revolutionary. He talked of what this country should be as opposed to what it was….and prepared himself to fight. You do not fight oppressive racism, virulent segregation and the viciousness of Jim Crow Laws by just dreaming. The Struggle was Never about dreaming. It was about marches, boycotts, direct action (demonstrations), and the overall bravery and courage of confronting Segregation-The White Comfort System of excluding Blacks and standing up to racist's cowardly violence.
Remember this the next time some White folks and some Black folks conveniently buy into the dreaming myth.
I met Franklin in 1960 before Ax Handle Saturday. We called him and Ezell Blair (later known as Jibreel Khazan), Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond the Greensboro 4. They were all Freshmen at North Carolina A&T.
He was very unassuming as were most college and high school students I met who participated in sit-ins. They never thought of themselves as doing something “special”. They realized sitting in was “something” which needed to be done. We understood what we were doing. White lunch counters were visible vestiges of discrimination to dramatize our opposition to Racism, American Style. Khazan and McNeil are still living. Although there were earlier sit-ins…especially Barbara Posey of the Oklahoma City Youth Council NAACP in 1958…the Greensboro Four reignited the movement in 1960.
What is not widely known is lunch counters in Downtown Greensboro integrated in August 1960, a few days before Ax Handle Saturday. Talk about degrees of separation.
Franklin McCain—RIP Civil Rights Movement Veteran.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Talking race is both intimidating and uncomfortable to those who cannot see racism. It is also uncomfortable to many Blacks who feel now that they have “integrated” their lifestyle into America’s Society, they are somehow different or even, shall I say exceptional. In other words, they do not see a Black face looking back at them in the mirror. Those who would deny racism exists have their proverbially “head in the sand”.
President Obama is antithesis to the age old image of powerless Blacks in this country. Blacks are less than 150 years from slavery (the end of the Civil War-not the Emancipation Proclamation). For many racist Whites, there is no way a Black President should be living in the White House and it irks them to see their American Dream violated. Their American Dream is “one day I can grow up or my son can grow up to become President of the United States”. Of course, the American Dream was never intended to be imagined by or shared with Blacks.
Many racists do not want Blacks to get any ideas that because there is a Black President, Black folk will have any lasting power. And the more they can disrespect Barack Obama as President, the better. Then they will use their disrespect at the end of an Obama Administration to talk about what an ineffective President he was while they daily did everything racistly possible to drag down his administration.
When Blacks understand the nature of racism, we will stand in lines to vote no matter how long it takes. When Blacks understand the nature of racism, we will understand the importance of demonstrating against racist evils. When Blacks understand the nature of racism, we will withhold our money against a cowardly racist American businesses who prey on Blacks. When Blacks understand the nature of racism, we will understand the Struggle is a never-ending journey against racism and for equality. It is only then we will make the words “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” of the Declaration of Independence, ring true for all Americans.
And if I might paraphrase, the battle does not go to the swift nor to the strong, but to one who endures until the end. It is not difficult to comprehend.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
The Whole System Failed Trayvon Martin by By CHARLES M. BLOW Published: July 15, 2013 (New York Times)
This is an outstanding column by Charles Blow. In fact, it is considered one of the best of 2013. I am posting it in its entirety.
"In a way, the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for his killing of Trayvon Martin was more powerful than a guilty verdict could ever have been. It was the perfect wrenching coda to a story that illustrates just how utterly and completely our system of justice — both moral and legal — failed Martin and his family.
This is not to dispute the jury’s finding — one can intellectually rationalize the decision — as much as it is to howl at the moon, to yearn for a brighter reality for the politics around dark bodies, to raise a voice and say, this case is a rallying call, not a death dirge.
The system began to fail Martin long before that night.
The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point.
The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not.
The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home.
The system failed him when the bullet ripped through his chest, and the man who shot him said he mounted him and stretched his arms out wide, preventing him from even clutching the spot that hurt.
The system failed him in those moments just after he was shot when he was surely aware that he was about to die, but before life’s light fully passed from his body — and no one came to comfort him or try to save him.
The system failed him when the slapdash Sanford police did a horrible job of collecting and preserving evidence.
The system failed him when those officers apparently didn’t even value his dead body enough to adequately canvass the complex to make sure that no one was missing a teen.
The system failed him when he was labeled a John Doe and his lifeless body spent the night alone and unclaimed.
The system failed him when the man who the police found standing over the body of a dead teenager, a man who admitted to shooting him and still had the weapon, was taken in for questioning and then allowed to walk out of the precinct without an arrest or even a charge, to go home after taking a life and take to his bed.
The system failed him when it took more than 40 days and an outpouring of national outrage to get an arrest.
The system failed him when a strangely homogenous jury — who may well have been Zimmerman’s peers but were certainly not the peers of the teenager, who was in effect being tried in absentia — was seated.
The system failed him when the prosecution put on a case for the Martin family that many court-watchers found wanting.
The system failed him when the discussion about bias became so reductive as to be either-or rather than about situational fluidity and the possibility of varying responses to varying levels of perceived threat.
The system failed him when everyone in the courtroom raised racial bias in roundabout ways, but almost never directly — for example, when the defense held up a picture of a shirtless Martin and told the jurors that this was the person Zimmerman encountered the night he shot him. But in fact it was not the way Zimmerman had seen Martin. Consciously or subconsciously, the defense played on an old racial trope: asking the all-female jury — mostly white — to fear the image of the glistening black buck, as Zimmerman had.
This case is not about an extraordinary death of an extraordinary person. Unfortunately, in America, people are lost to gun violence every day. Many of them look like Martin and have parents who presumably grieve for them. This case is about extraordinary inequality in the presumption of innocence and the application of justice: why was Martin deemed suspicious and why was his killer allowed to go home?
Sometimes people just need a focal point. Sometimes that focal point becomes a breaking point.
The idea of universal suspicion without individual evidence is what Americans find abhorrent and what black men in America must constantly fight. It is pervasive in policing policies — like stop-and-frisk, and in this case neighborhood watch — regardless of the collateral damage done to the majority of innocents. It’s like burning down a house to rid it of mice.
As a parent, particularly a parent of black teenage boys, I am left with the question, “Now, what do I tell my boys?”
We used to say not to run in public because that might be seen as suspicious, like they’d stolen something. But according to Zimmerman, Martin drew his suspicion at least in part because he was walking too slowly.
So what do I tell my boys now? At what precise pace should a black man walk to avoid suspicion?
And can they ever stop walking away, or running away, and simply stand their ground? Can they become righteously indignant without being fatally wounded?
Is there anyplace safe enough, or any cargo innocent enough, for a black man in this country? Martin was where he was supposed to be — in a gated community — carrying candy and a canned drink.
The whole system failed Martin. What prevents it from failing my children, or yours?
I feel that I must tell my boys that, but I can’t. It’s stuck in my throat. It’s an impossibly heartbreaking conversation to have. So, I sit and watch in silence, and occasionally mouth the word, “breathe,” because I keep forgetting to."
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
From the Web site…"Established on September 9, 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, we are the Founders of Black History Month and carry forth the work of our founder, the Father of Black History. We continue his legacy of speaking a fundamental truth to the world–that Africans and peoples of African descent are makers of history and co-workers in what W. E. B. Du Bois called, "The Kingdom of Culture." ASALH's mission is to create and disseminate knowledge about Black History, to be, in short, the nexus between the Ivory Tower and the global public. We labor in the service of Blacks and all humanity."
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History selects the theme for Black History each year. The Black History Theme for 2014 is "Civil Rights in America". Stay tuned. It promised to be quite a year!
BTW…Excellent Web Site! Outstanding Organization!
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
"Black Like Me" was written 52 years ago in 1961. It is an excellent read, and one of my favorite books. It is as relevant today as it was when it was written. John Howard Griffin, a White native Texan decided he wanted to experience racism for himself. In the autumn of 1959, Griffin took large oral doses of various skin darkening treatments and spent hours daily under an ultraviolet lamp. He used dyes to cover uneven skin areas and closely cut his hair. To say John Howard Griffin learned about the insidious nature of racist core attitudes based on the color of your skin up close and personal is an understatement.
From a review of the book…”The Deep South of the late 1950's was another country: a land of lynchings, segregated lunch counters, whites-only restrooms, and a color line etched in blood across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. White journalist John Howard Griffin, working for the Black-owned magazine Sepia, decided to cross that line. Using medication that darkened his skin to deep brown, he exchanged his privileged life as a southern white man for the disenfranchised world of an unemployed black man. What happened to John Howard Griffin–from the outside and within himself–as he made his way through the segregated Deep South is recorded in this searing work of nonfiction. Educated and soft-spoken, John Howard Griffin changed only the color of his skin. It was enough to make him hated…enough to nearly get him killed. His audacious, still chillingly relevant eyewitness history is a work about race and humanity every American should read.”
I read “Black Like Me” in ‘62 or ‘63 and saw the movie which starred James Whitmore in 1964. In fact I read this book more than 3 times while in the Air Force in Texas, John Griffin's home state. I was just a couple of years removed from the civil rights movement in Jacksonville. Wherever I was reading the book, I would it hold up from time to time so there was no mistake about what I was reading. During these days of rancid racism, and during the middle of some of the most virulent southern violence during the movement… the assassination of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi; the bombing of the 16th Avenue Baptist Church which killed four Little Black Girls Addie Mae Collins, age 14-Cynthia Wesley, age 14-Carole Robertson, age 14-and Denise McNair, age 11; the killing of Black teen-agers Johnny Robinson, 16, and Virgil Ware, 13, the same day as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing on Sept. 15, 1963 and the list is endless … my reading “Black Like Me” and letting the world know scared some of my Black Air Force friends half to death. But each time I read it, I would have a different interpretation of a passage or passages I had read before. I have read it several times since and will read it again very soon. I would start again this week but I loaned it to either a family member or a friend, and it has not returned. Black Like Me is an outstanding true personal account and makes for an interesting comparison about what has actually changed in 50 years.
As much as any, this is a must read.
I saw John in the late '70's on The Mike Douglas Show. His experiences were so profound that when answering questions from Mike Douglas about Blacks and what he endured as a "Black Man", Griffin responded with "we". When answering questions about Southern Whites and their obviously well entrenched racism, he responded with "they".
John Howard Griffin died in Fort Worth in 1980 at age 60 from complications due to diabetes. It has been erroneously claimed that the large doses of Oxsoralen Griffin used in 1959 eventually led to his death from skin cancer. (I thought so too.) Griffin did not have skin cancer; the only negative symptoms he suffered due to the drug were temporary and minor. An hour-long biographical documentary about Griffin, Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin, was released in 2011. The film has been aired on PBS stations and is included as an extra on the 2013 DVD release of the film Black Like Me.
The Struggle Continues. RLHSR.
Judge Jean Boyd
This judge … Jean Boyd … is a microcosm of the Racist Criminal (Non-)Justice System and the Prison Industrial Complex. She is highly representative of judges sitting in judgement through narrowly slitted and tainted sun glasses. They are part of the FARM SYSTEM that supplies jails and prisons and Juvenile Detention Centers.
She sentenced Ethan Couch to 10-years probation after his reckless drunk driving accident killed four people. Couch’s lawyer claimed that this made-up condition occurs when a person’s wealth makes them unable to understand the consequences of their actions. Instead of jail time, Judge Boyd ruled that Couch gets probation and time in a posh treatment center paid for by his wealthy, workaholic dad. We’re sure this young sociopath has a career on Wall Street in the future.
She didn’t seem to consider mental health issues when she sentenced a 14-year-old black kid to 10 years in Juvie for an unfortunate but far lesser crime. The teenaged boy punched a man, who then died after falling to the ground and hitting his head on the pavement. Obviously it was a reckless act and it’s sad that the man died from it, but it’s unlikely that the kid meant to kill him. However, This is a noticeable pattern in her sentencings.
The message sent by the Affluenza Judge is much like the message we get from Washington DC and Wall Street. It’s all about austerity, punishment, and “personal responsibility” for the poor and coddling, tax-funded handouts, and lack of accountability for the rich.
Yet take the cases of Trayvon Martin…Jordan Davis…Marissa Alexander…and the list is endless…all which show what happens when the hue of your skin is THE consideration irrespective of the money in your pocket, and when facts are twisted to make the victim the perpetrator. Somehow YOU are guilty and You caused whatever happened to you because you are Black. Racism will not disappear while your head is either stuck up your anal canal or in a much safer hole in the sand. And do not expect our Young People to pick up the blood-stained banner and continue the fight against racism when YOU never carried one.
Racism/Institutional Racism is an epidemic mess in these 'As Yet' United States of America. Black folks and White Folks are such cowards speaking out against racism. We simply think being honest about race conversations and racism make our family and friends and associates "uncomfortable".
And might I add, NEVER EVER have a positive word to say about THE Black President.
And as always, the Struggle Continues.